Banking & Finance

Equifax Strikes a $671 Million Deal Over 2017 Data Breach

Investigations by 48 states; Puerto Rico; Washington, D.C.; the Federal Trade Commission; the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; and the New York Department of Financial Services into the 2017 data breach at Equifax Inc. (NYSE: EFX) will end if a judge accepts a negotiated settlement of $671 million, the largest ever involving leaked personal data.

The company will create a restitution fund totaling $425 million to pay for credit monitoring, actual out-of-pocket losses and other consumer benefits, such as identity restoration services. Equifax also will pay $175 million to the states and “significant injunctive relief for consumers,” according to the deal announced Monday morning by New York State Attorney General Letitia James.

In its announcement, Equifax said it would add $11 million in the second quarter to the $690 million it already had reserved in the first quarter, to bring the company’s total accrual related to the breach to $701 million.

If the court approves the settlement, Equifax will provide free three-bureau credit monitoring services to approximately 147 million for four years and up to six years of additional monitoring by Equifax alone, or a single payment of $125 in some cases.

Out-of-pocket losses include payment for up to 20 hours of time a consumer spent trying to fix the problem at $25 an hour, up to 25% of payments for credit monitoring service in the year before Equifax announced the breach and other out of pocket losses resulting from the breach.

Equifax also will offer free identity restoration services for at least seven years to help “remedy the effects of identity theft and fraud.”

New York Attorney General James said:

Equifax put profits over privacy and greed over people, and must be held accountable to the millions of people they put at risk. … Now it’s time for the company to do what’s right and not only pay restitution to the millions of victims of their data breach, but also provide every American who had their highly sensitive information accessed with the tools they need to battle identity theft in the future.

Monday’s announcement had been rumored for several days, and the stock has not taken much of a hit because of that. In fact, shares traded up about 2% to $140.09 just after Monday’s opening bell. The stock’s 52-week range is $88.68 to $140.52, and the high was posted Friday. The 12-month consensus price target on the stock is $128.50.